Friday, April 01, 2016

Captain Radhika Menon Is First Woman To Win Maritime Gallantry Award

By Shevlin Sebastian 

Photo of Radhika Menon by Ch Kodandaramaiah

At noon, on June 22, 2015, second officer Manoj Chauhan, of the ship, ‘Sampurna Swarajya’, noticed a boat two-and-a-half kms away, off the coast of Gopalpur, Orissa. Owing to a deep depression there were fierce winds and rains. The wind speed was 60 to 70 knots, while the waves rose to a height of 25-27 feet. As a result, the boat was being tossed up and down.
Manoj informed Radhika Menon, the first woman captain of the Indian Merchant Navy. 
“When I looked through my binoculars, they were waving their shirts and asking for help,” says Radhika, who is from Kodungallur.
Radhika immediately ordered a rescue operation. Because of the turbulent sea, it took three attempts before all seven were rescued. The fishermen, who ranged in age from the 15-year old Perla Mahesh to Narasimha Murthy, 50, were in bad shape. They were weak, starving and frightened. The food and water had been washed away. They survived by sucking on ice cubes from the cold storage, which is used for preserving the fish.
On April 5, National Maritime Day, the  National Maritime Day Celebration
Committee of India will confer the 'Seafarers Gallantry Award' on Radhika for rescuing the fishermen. She is the first woman to be conferred with this award at a function in Mumbai.

I am humbled, honoured, and grateful to have been selected as a recipient,” says Radhika. “It is a maritime obligation to save souls in distress at sea and, as a seafarer and Master in command of my ship, I just did my duty. I  am very grateful to my officers and crew who did a great job. This award will be a constant reminder of the support and appreciation that I have received. I promise to continue the seafaring tradition of helping others.”

And this brave woman has a simple advice to girls who want to follow in her footsteps: “She should not expect any special consideration just because she is a girl. She should know her work thoroughly, so that she can command the respect of others.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kerala editions) 

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